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by Roland Rhoades

     I came across a pamphlet titled “What to do to go to Hell”. The inside was blank. The back cover said, ”Yes that’s right, if you do nothing and don’t accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you will go to Hell.” 

     How can some Christians be so un-Christian?  You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to use a little common sense and to think for yourself to realize how ridiculous the concept of Hell really is.  Let’s accept for a moment the Judeo Christian concept of GOD as a great spirit that lives up in the sky and is the “Father” of all life on earth.  OK, he’s a parent of all of us. God is believed to be perfect and humans as imperfect.  So, would we imperfect human (sane) parents punish our children to eternal torment and torture if they didn’t obey and honor us? Obviously NO.  So, HOW in the world does anyone come up with the idea or believe the idea that a perfect God parent would do so??  Obviously some ideas and teachings of Jesus have been misinterpreted or just plain invented by other church leaders to keep their congregations subservient.  One of the basic beliefs of Universalism for hundreds of years has been universal salvation.

     Hell is a concept that we create for ourselves right here on earth.  It is our choice how we live. If we make life hell for others, well, what goes around comes around.  We can also help to create heaven on earth. There’s a cute T-shirt that says “Religion is for people afraid of going to hell. Spirituality is for people who have already been there.”  I prefer to be spiritual.

     I traveled from church to church before I got here and I learned much of what I did and didn’t believe. And I’m still learning; the more I learn, the more I reshape my belief system. I believe that Earth School is supposed to be where you can think for yourself to try to unravel the mysteries of life.  I think that it is important enough, that I try to be active in telling the rest of the world to “Question Reality”.  I think the human race should disengage the emergency brake they set a couple thousand years ago, and continue evolving. Redefine what is normal. The best way to predict the future is to create it. I’d like to believe that Non-Judgement Day is near!   That’s some of the reasons that I am a Unitarian Universalist.

Reprinted from a past issue of the “Sanford UU Notes”. Further Recommended Reading: Free pamphlets on the Literature Rack: “Unitarian Universalist Origins” and “Our UU Faith - Frequently Asked Questions”; “The Unitarian Universalist Pocket Guide” in the Library Book cabinet; “The Celestine Prophecy” by James Redfield, “Ishmael” by Daniel Quinn, and the “Conversations with God” series of books by Neale Donald Walsh.



A Personal View of Religious Freedom of Thought

by Roland Rhoades

No one person can make a statement of what all Unitarian Universalists (UU) believe, and that confused me for a while. I was never a regular church goer. I started my REAL spiritual education at the Sanford Maine UU Church  Book & Philosophy Discussion Group. Talking and learning about different philosophies and ways of thinking, and the openness of deciding for yourself what feels right in your heart, made me decide that this was the place for this independent thinker. We all have our own personal philosophy of what feels right to us on the inside and prefer taking the responsibility to think for ourselves. I like the UU wallet cards defining the basic guidelines of what we believe. Maybe some of you will identify with my search and need for freedom of spiritual thought.

Unitarian Universalists believe in God with many names and messengers according to the cultures of various parts of the world. There is no right one or wrong one if you are reading the message of God correctly. Someone asked God why he doesn't send messengers anymore. He replied "Every time I do, you people start a new religion and persecute all my other people, or tell them that they have to believe the same way that you think I'm telling you to believe. You are all one people with one god who has many names." 

Here are some of my thoughts:

Animals do what they are told to do, or what they have been trained by man or nature to do.

“God” (and we all have different names for that “Higher Power”) gave humans a special gift, which we are expected to use - the ability to question and reason and think for ourselves. I believe that God cries when people try to squash that gift and speak in “his” name saying “We have the one truth; you don’t need to think about it or question it, just memorize it.” All the world’s religions have their own version of a book with the word of God. Unitarian Universalists respect the teachings of all the world’s religions and philosophies and believe we can learn from all of them. I hunger to use God’s special gift to the fullest to learn about all philosophies so that we can put the pieces together to solve the puzzle of the meaning of life, not just to learn “the party line”. Striving to learn that puzzle may very well be the reason we are here.

I studied with the Jehovah Witnesses and the Assemblies of God when beginning my spiritual search in the early 1990s. Since I didn’t know what I believed, I figured the first logical step was to determine what it was that I did NOT believe in.  Nice people, but I felt something missing. I want to know everything, both sides of the story. I found the Sanford UU Church in 1996 by checking the yellow pages to see what churches I hadn’t tried yet. I have enjoyed learning about the suppressed teachings of Jesus and what is behind some of the old Bible stories, especially what scholars say about some of the Bible being Hebrew adoption of more ancient stories (and supposedly the Bible covers back to the first day of humanity as Hebrew times). I can pinpoint one Fundamentalist statement that sent me back on my search for the truth. I was at an Assemblies of God Bible study at the assistant pastor’s house and someone mentioned a woman’s husband dying in a car crash. The response of one “Christian” woman: “Oh my God, he wasn’t saved; he’s going to go to Hell.”  How un-Christian can a “Christian” get? I think that would make Jesus cry. Mentioning it to a Baptist minister later, his only response was “Well, was he saved?”

I believe that Jesus was much more loving and non-judgmental than some would believe. I believe that Jesus’ teaching was to love those who are different from you as yourself, with no strings attached. Jesus certainly did not teach that some people are inherently better than others, and certainly no philosophy that I would call “divinely” inspired would promote it either. Yet the Bible and religion are used to promote just that purpose, which is the root of all that is wrong with the world. Some people use the Bible to promote bigotry by showing they are God’s Chosen Ones and you’re not, but you can be if you change and think like them. Unfortunately they don’t recognize their bigotry. That’s what bothers me about other groups I studied religion with. We don’t even believe everyone should be a UU! If you are being fed spiritually and are at peace in Buddhism, Catholicism, or whatever, then you have found the right place for YOU. Just don’t think your way has to be The One Divine Way and everybody else has to change. Some people say we are not Christian; I say it’s a matter of semantics. I have found UUs to be more “Christian” in practice than many who loudly profess to be “saved Christians” (I think they’re in for a big surprise).

The standard translation of the Bible starts right out at the beginning blaming Woman for the downfall of humanity and our expulsion from paradise, and women are treated as second class citizens from then on. If we are starting out with the belief that an entire half of humanity is inherently inferior, everything else that is wrong just falls into place naturally, such as these statements of bigotry:

Men are better than women. “God the Father” created Man in “His” image and then as an afterthought created woman from spare parts left over from Adam so that man would have someone to work for him. Religion A is better than Religion B. And everyone knows that Irish Catholics are better than Irish Protestants. God is White - just look at the pictures in books; so white people are superior. Everyone must be heterosexual - the Bible says so. (Then why does God make 10%+ of his creations gay? Diversity is what makes life interesting). If foreigners can’t speak English, they must be stupid. Rich people are better than poor people. I am better than you.

Prejudice is prejudice. Everyone is different and that is the way it is supposed to be. Believing any one of the above prejudices hurts both other people and your inner self. Most prejudiced people don’t even recognize their own beliefs as prejudice. I believe there is no US and THEM; We are All Humans. Wanting MORE than somebody else, or being BETTER than somebody else, should not be the natural order of things, and we must educate people about this.

Buddhists, Taoists, Humanists, Pagans, liberal religious dilettantes against dogma, social activists, cultural creatives all find home at Unitarian Universalist churches. Check your yellow pages for one near you, or click here for a UU church near you.

Standard Disclaimer: the opinions and views in this website may not necessarily reflect the views of all UUs, and are merely the statement of opinion of THIS UU activist.  I hope you will all visit a UU church near you and begin researching your own theology. Tell them you saw the HERETICS website.


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